Some immigrants concerned about proposal impacting non-government IDs

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) —  Immigration rights groups wanted Wake County officials to hear them out Wednesday night at a community forum.

They’re lobbying for the use of FaithAction ID’s, which is non-government identification that would allow undocumented immigrants to identify themselves. But, local law enforcement is still hesitant.

The forum came a day after two Republican senators introduced a bill that would withhold funding from local communities that don’t comply with state and federal immigration laws. It would also bar police and other government officials from using so-called “community IDs” in trying to determine a person’s identity.

“The risks and the dangers that come from some of these folks that are running around with IDs that aren’t real,” said state Sen. Buck Newton (R), one of the sponsors of the bill. Newton is also the Republican candidate for state attorney general.

Multiple cities and counties in North Carolina like Greensboro, Charlotte and Chapel Hill are adopting FaithAction ID’s to make undocumented immigrants feel more accepted.

“It allows for these individuals with having this ID to be able to have a more positive relationship with the local authorities,” said William Saenz with El Pueblo.

Geraldine Rodriguez’ mother, Carmen, who is an undocumented immigrant, has one of the IDs.

“The FaithAction ID isn’t like a license, but it’s a way to identify ourselves at schools and to the police,” said Rodriguez.

Law enforcement agencies around the state have announced they are using the ID’s issued by the organization, Faith Action. But, Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says because the ID isn’t government issued, it still doesn’t prove who someone is.

“It’s sort of like going into my basement and having my own ID setup.  You know, I’ll do you an ID for ten dollars,” said Harrison.

Saenz argues in areas the ID’s have been accepted, it has improved undocumented community members’ willingness to reach out when in need. However, both Saenz and Harrison agree there needs to be more trust between the community and law enforcement before anything can be implemented.

“Typically once you have that kind of approval from these individuals and say listen we’re more concerned about our safety and the well-being of the community, that’s when people are more confident about giving them those ID’s,” said Saenz.

“We don’t ask you if you’re documented or undocumented. All we want to do is do what we’re supposed to do: go out and solve the problem,” said Harrison.

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